I heard Loony Bin BBQ opened in Crofton so asked my friends Zach and Sarah to try it with me since they recently moved there. I remember seeing their food truck at a venue, but didn’t get a chance to try it since the line was long and the brisket was sold out. I figured at the restaurant I would have a better chance trying the brisket and catching up with friends.
When we walked in, I immediately noticed the restaurant was decorated with memorabilia from extreme sports such as skateboarding and motocross. which gave it a cool and somewhat sporty vibe to the place. There was country music playing in the background which made you feel mellow and relaxed. I got the impression that the owners wanted to bring the same casual feel from the truck to a standing restaurant. The menu was simple and consisted of the following choices sold in half pound amounts: pulled pork, wagyu brisket, smoked turkey, ribs, and jalapeno cheddar sausage. Some had a sandwich option served on potato bread rolls. For the sides, your choices were: coleslaw, bbq beans, mac and cheese, potato salad, French fries, fried okra or cornbread.
We decided to order a couple of things to get a good variety of samples. Their pulled pork sandwich combo ($11) came with a side and a drink. I got the combo and added coleslaw on top of my pulled pork with bbq beans as my side, and some ribs ($4.50) too. Zach and Sarah ordered the brisket ($14), smoked turkey ($9), mac and cheese ($3), fries ($3), fried okra ($3.50), and corn bread ($2).
They wrote our names and orders on trays that were covered with a piece of butcher paper. I looked behind the register and saw the owners working in the kitchen as they were pulling out the smoked meats and slicing them up. It was suggested to us to try their housemade pickles and grab a bottle of their housemade barbeque sauce while we waited. The assortment of pickles were fresh, crisp and simple. They had pickled jalapenos, poblano, sweet onions, and sliced pickles.
As we were trying the pickles and chatting, our food started to come out. I was surprised to see that the coleslaw on my pulled pork sandwich was not runny, it had a great crunch. I loved the use of kale and radish in the coleslaw which made it somewhat healthy. The pulled pork by itself was a bit dry, but the barbeque sauce was a nice touch, and gave it a nice tang, sweetness, and pepperiness.
Sarah enjoyed the juicy, tender smoked turkey, and was glad that the seasoning was not overpowering. She thought that would have been really good as a sandwich. Zach tried the dry rubbed rib and was surprised how the meat came easily off the bone. The brisket was notably delicious with a rich smokiness, and melted in your mouth with a beautiful balance of meat and fat. No utensils required for their brisket. They did a fabulous job letting it cook in its own fat and juices. I’ve had brisket at other barbeque places, and sometimes they can be too oily and tough, but Loony Bin did a great job with just letting the brisket be the star.
While enjoying our smoked meats, we sampled the different side dishes. My favorite was the fried okra, and to keep to the Maryland traditions, I could smell the Old Bay which gave the okra a bit of a kick as you bit into the crunchy batter. The bbq beans had a creaminess to them as they were swimming in the sweet and tangy sauce. The cornbread had the right denseness and it held together very well, it was not crumbling or falling apart, and I liked the level of sweetness. The mac and cheese was my least enjoyable side dish. For me, I like my mac and cheese to have more body and a thicker cheese sauce with more cheese, and baked in the oven with a brown crust of melted cheese on top. I thought it was interesting they put crushed pieces of Cheez-its on top, but it was not for me.
I was starting to get full from our assortment of items when Zach mentioned the free soft serve machine by the counter. He told me this spot was originally home to another barbeque restaurant and they let people enjoy a complimentary dessert. I thought the owners were smart to keep the machine to remind people of the former barbeque restaurant and to enjoy a free dessert for all ages.
The owners of Loony Bin BBQ truly have a passion for their barbeque. I especially savored their brisket, beans, and fried okra. Zach really liked the ribs and decided he liked the brisket more than the turkey, while Sarah really liked the smoked turkey. The housemade pickles were a nice touch and well made, and they had a simple yet delicious barbeque sauce.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to try everything without having to wait at their truck. I would absolutely go back for more brisket, and I would absolutely support them in their mission to be one of the best barbeque restaurants in Maryland.
If you go
WHERE: 1121 St., Rte 3 North, Gambrills, Md. 21054
HOURS: Monday – Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., or till it’s gone
OWNER: Jay Davis
PRICE: $2 - $14
CREDIT CARDS: All major credit cards
RESERVATIONS: Not needed